Mini excavators have grown in popularity since they offer a quieter and more user-friendly alternative to traditional excavators. Whether you’re looking for an economical excavator option or are simply working in some tight spaces, we’ve found the top mini excavator brands for your next project.
If you’re working on a small farm, the Kubota mini excavator has been labeled as the “Best Buy” by Farm Show. Even though the Kubota KX161-3 is only 2,200 pounds, it can pick up 4,000 pounds of rocks and dig holes as deep as 12 feet. It has two speeds and its engine can generate 10.1 horsepower.
At 7.4 feet in height and 9 feet in length, this excavator has a 360-degree swing that allows it to pile up rocks, trees or dirt on the side. The Kubota excavator is also excellent for smoothing a driveway or landscaping projects.
Takeuchi is one of many brands that has been making construction equipment for the better half of a century. The TB135 mini excavator has rubber tracks that offer two speeds of travel on different surfaces. It also has a fully tilting cab for easier maintenance.
Another popular brand that has a reputation for well-designed equipment is Bobcat. Their 331 mini excavator is easily portable, and its hydraulic joysticks offer more precision than other machinery. The Bobcat 331 mini excavator offers both durability and performance. Bobcat also has 11 compact excavator models available for sale, ranging from 2,593 to 18,977 pounds.
4. John Deere
Construction equipment from John Deere is also a popular choice, especially when it comes to compact excavators. The G-Series compact excavators offer a digging capability of 12 feet and the ability to reach 20 feet.
Named the best all-around mini excavator by Papé Machinery, John Deere excavators have features like auto-shutdown to save fuel, a reduced tail swing design and an EPA Final Tier 4 diesel engine. One of the most compact models is the 2,000-3,999 lbs mini excavator. If you need an excavator with more power, choose from options that lift anywhere between 18,000 to 19,999 pounds.
Caterpillar is known for its reliable and quality construction machinery, and its mini excavators are no exception. With 24 different models to choose from, Caterpillar’s mini hydraulic excavators can lift anywhere between 1 and 10 metric tons. The 300.9D mini hydraulic excavator is the most compact excavator offered, with a width of 2.4 feet and 13 horsepower. It’s great for tight spaces given its small size at just over 2,000 pounds.
Yanmar introduced one of the first mini excavators in 1968, and since then it has led the way in the industry with its equipment. Its true zero turn radius mini excavators are equipped with Smart Assist to help with tracking location, work hours, and engine codes. Each Yanmar excavator model Vi025 and larger comes with standard hydraulic quick couplers as well. Its largest mini excavator was released in May 2020, called the SV40, in the 4-5 ton class.
Japanese construction manufacturer Komatsu has made a name for itself in creating high-quality, reliable compact excavators. With six different excavators to choose from, these machines have size classes of up to 8 metric tons. The smallest excavators Komatsu offers are the PC30MR-5 and the PC35MR-5.
What do mini excavators do?
Since they’re smaller than standard excavators, the mini version can be used for small and moderate jobs like repairing sewer lines, landscaping, or even pool and hot tub installations. Pair them with brush cutters or augers to accomplish even more tasks.
These compact excavators can range from 2,000 to 20,000 pounds, with advantages that standard excavators don’t have, including:
- Fewer track marks and top ground damage
- Longer life span
- Easier to maneuver
- More practical for transport
Like their standard counterparts, mini excavators help with digging, demolition, plowing, leveling, drilling, grading and trenching.
What size mini excavator should I get?
The excavator size you choose depends on the project, space and power needed for the job. If you’re looking to carry heavy loads, then a bigger excavator is the way to go. For fitting into small spaces, you’ll want a smaller excavator.
For example, 4,000-pound mini excavators can help dig small foundations, move dirt, gravel, rubble or debris, and transfer piping or beams. If you need something bigger, 10,000-pound mini excavators are great for backfilling and trenching, while an 18,000-pound mini excavator can dig up to 15 feet deep.
What attachments can I use?
Mini excavators can be used with attachments like buckets for trenching and grading as well as hydraulic thumbs for picking up and securing material as you move it. Clamps can also be used to pick up larger materials like tree stumps. Some additional attachments you can use with a mini excavator include:
- Brush cutters
Which brand is right for my project?
Picking the right mini excavator brand can be difficult with the myriad of choices available. The type of machinery you should choose ultimately depends on your project. Some factors to consider when selecting a mini excavator for your project include machine size and weight, carrying load, price or rental ability and engineer power. It’s also wise to consider the needs of your project and make sure the excavator you choose can meet those requirements.
The project’s location is also something to keep in mind as you’ll need the right equipment to dig, lift and carry on the job site. For tight spaces, you might consider a smaller excavator, while bigger projects may require more hydraulic power.
Another support option worth considering is a zero tail swing configuration, meaning the excavator is able to rotate its upper body within the undercarriage width of the machine, allowing the operator to work in congested areas. However, these tail swings often have lower operating capacities than their reduced tail and conventional tail counterparts.
Lastly, reviewing previous jobs and their measurements can help inform your decision.
Prepare for your next project with the right equipment
Mini excavators offer much of the power of a standard excavator with the compact flexibility to fit in small places and take on smaller projects. These versatile machines often last longer than their larger counterparts. Since bigger machines can’t reach smaller spaces and smaller machines like backhoe loaders aren’t as powerful, mini excavators are an excellent option for many different applications. Try renting a versatile mini excavator for your next project.